How to Enable and Find Your Windows Boot Log

Xiaobai Software  2022-06-27 18: 12  read 140 views

When troubleshooting a Windows computer, it is useful to have as much system information as possible.There are several ways to generate information about what's going on under the hood of your computer.If you're having startup problems, one of the most useful ways to check is the startup log.

 

Here's how to enable boot logging and how to find it on a Windows computer.

What is the Windows boot log?

The startup log or system initialization log is a text file that can be generated during computer startup.It contains a list of all drivers loaded during startup, as well as any expected drivers that were not loaded.

By default, startup logging is disabled.There are two ways to enable or disable startup logging, both of which are discussed below.Because you're making changes to an important part of Windows, both methods require you to be logged in as an administrator.If you do not have permission, you will not be allowed to enable boot logging.

 

Text files generated when boot logging is enabled can be opened and read in a text editor such as Notepad.Each driver is listed individually and marked as LOADED or NOT_LOADED.The folder path for each driver is also displayed.

How to enable startup logging with MSConfig

Using the MSConfig tool, also known as the System Configuration Tool, is probably the easiest of the two ways to enable boot logging.

1. Open the "Run" dialog by searching for "Run" in Windows Search, or using the Win+R shortcut.

2. In the Run application, type msconfig and press Enter.If prompted, confirm your administrator privileges.

3. Select the Startup tab in the System Configuration application.The default operating system should already be selected.

4. Check the box next to "Startup Log" in the "Startup Options" section, then click "Apply".

 

You will be prompted to restart your computer.Doing so will generate a startup log immediately.You can also exit without rebooting if you need to save and close any unfinished files.In this case, the boot log will be created the next time you restart the computer.

How to Modify Startup Settings with BitLocker Enabled

Enabling startup logging is treated by Windows as editing startup settings.This will be a problem if you have BitLocker encryption turned on on the disk where the OS is installed.Enabling boot journaling and then rebooting will activate BitLocker protection.

 

If BitLocker is enabled, you will see a message when you apply startup settings changes in MSConfig.This information will remind you that when you restart after making changes to the startup settings, your computer will enter recovery mode.You will be asked to enter a BitLocker recovery key or recovery password to continue booting.

If you see this message and do not have the BitLocker recovery key or password, please do not continue to modify the startup options.If you don't know where to find it, our guide will help you find your BitLocker recovery key.

How to Enable Boot Log with Command Prompt

If you don't have access to MSConfig for some reason, you can use the command prompt (Elevated) to enable startup logging.This method requires a bit more work, but it's pretty straightforward if you follow the steps here.

1. In Windows Search, enter Command Prompt.Right-click it in the results and select Run as administrator.

2. In an elevated command prompt, type bcdedit and press Enter.This will produce a list of startup details.

3. Note the identifier in the Windows Boot Loader section.This is usually {current}.

4. To enable boot logging, type the following: bcdedit /set {identifier} bootlog Yes.Replace the identifier with the value you noticed in the previous step.

5. Enter bcdedit again to check if boot logging is enabled.It will appear at the bottom of the list of startup information.

6. You can then close the command prompt and restart your computer to generate the log.

 

Using the Command Prompt can be a bit daunting for new Windows users, or if you've never used this tool before.It's really nothing to fear as long as you follow the command directions from a trusted source like MakeUseOf.

Where are the Windows startup logs kept?

The resulting startup log file will be called ntbtlog.txt.You can find it at C:\Windows\ntbtlog.txt.If you don't see this file in this location, make sure you restart your computer at least once after enabling boot logging.

There is only one version of this file, and it will be overwritten every time you start your computer with boot logging enabled.To prevent this, you can move the generated logs to another part of your desktop or computer.This way you can compare boot logs from different periods.You need to confirm administrator rights to move the boot log out of the Windows folder.

How to Disable Boot Logs

After you have finished troubleshooting the boot log, it is not necessary to continue enabling it.You can disable startup logging by simply reversing the process above.

Run MSConfig, select the Boot tab.Uncheck the box next to "Startup Log" in "Startup Options".Then click Apply.

Open an advanced command prompt and type: bcdedit /set {identifier} bootlog No. Replace with the identifier you used earlier, eg {current}.

You can disable boot logging using either method, even if it's different from the method you used to enable it.

Troubleshoot startup problems with the Windows startup log

Enabling the boot log in Windows allows you to see a textual list of each driver loaded and not loaded during boot.This is useful for troubleshooting startup issues and applications and services not working properly after startup.

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